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Post-screening Remarks.  The Executive Director of Friends of the Congo is on the far right.

Post-screening Remarks. The Executive Director of Friends of the Congo is on the far right.

Friends of the Congo continues to earn accolades.  Tonight at Cafe Arte they screened the Cuba: An African Odyssey film, of which snippets were shown at their Cuba to Kuba event that I reviewed last week.  Due to a combination of a late start and the film’s length, the evening culminated with only a viewing of the first half of the film complete.

The documentary contains very interesting footage from the era as well as insightful interviews with prominent figures from various African countries, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and the US (European figures are significantly less prominent).  It is certainly worth viewing, though I would say that it’s scope is probably too ambitious (there was an attempt to introduce viewers to Amilcar Cabral in some depth, which I felt was superficial and a bit of a flop).  In particular, I would have liked to hear more about Che’s 8 country Africa tour in 1964 and his very warm reception in revolutionary Congo – Brazzaville.

The first part of the film recounts Che Guevara’s failed mission in the Congo and Cuba’s less explicit (but perhaps more successful) military assistance to Guinea-Bissau, which involved several of the same personnel who served with Che in the Congo (such as the ubiquitous Victor Dreke).  The second part, to be screened by Friends of the Congo at a later date, apparently explores Cuba’s lengthier and more substantial role in Angola. 

Anyone know what the Cuban – Angolan relationship is like these days?

Afterwords, I nodded my head to some African tunes for a few minutes at the nearby Bukom Cafe.  I have to say that given its location, it amazes me how heavily West African the clientele is there (although similar scenarios hold true for several nearby Ethiopian establishments).